Sunday, November 14, 2010

Apparent loser Tom Emmer trying to get former client's legal malpractice lawsuit against him tossed out

Emmer is a no-show at hearing on lawsuit, meets with Gov. Tim Pawlenty instead to discuss job he'll never have.

By Karl Bremer

Tom Emmer is trying to get a legal malpractice lawsuit filed against him by a former client thrown out because he says he didn’t represent the client on the case the malpractice allegedly took place. According to the Associated Press, Emmer’s attorney, Michael Schwartz, asked Wright County District Judge Stephen Halsey to dismiss the case at a hearing November 8. Halsey took the motion under advisement.

The client, Steven R. Hackbarth, and his roofing contracting company, Hackbarth Enterprises Corporation, both of Silver Lake, a McLeod County town southwest of Emmer's hometown of Delano, filed the lawsuit in September. The lawsuit was first reported on Ripple in Stillwater.

According to Hackbarth’s lawsuit, Emmer represented Hackbarth in a legal proceeding that resulted in a judgment against Hackbarth and cost him his state contractor’s license. Hackbarth says one of his roofing materials suppliers sued him in 2009 over money the supplier claimed Hackbarth owed him.

“People charged my account with the supplier and they weren’t supposed to,” says Hackbarth. “I was disputing that with my supplier, so I asked Emmer to represent me. But he didn’t file the documents he was supposed to file with the court. He showed up the day of the hearing,” but beyond that, Hackbarth told Ripple in Stillwater, “he didn’t do nothing.”

The timing of Hackbarth’s filing led Emmer spokesman Carl Kuhl to charge that Hackbarth was engaging in political “extortion” by trying to get a $200,000 settlement out of the failed GOP candidate for governor so close to the election.

“While Mr. Hackbarth denies political motivation, he made outrageous financial demands prior to filing his suit in the hope of leveraging Tom Emmer's candidacy to advantage himself,” Kuhl told the AP. “Tom Emmer does not negotiate with extortionists.”

Emmer may have been looking for a way to avoid the hearing so soon after his apparent loss to Mark Dayton. Schwartz claimed Emmer could not attend the hearing because he had a meeting with Governor Pawlenty. However, according to the Star-Tribune, that meeting was only planned the weekend before the hearing:

Pawlenty offered to meet with both Democrat Mark Dayton and Emmer to help
them prepare in case they become governor. Late last week, Dayton set up a
meeting for Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Emmer hadn't yet scheduled a meeting.

But over the weekend, Emmer and Pawlenty found a time to meet.
Hackbarth says Emmer has represented him in previous legal matters, and that he’s been a longtime supporter of Emmer’s past political campaigns.

“If he would have just apologized, it probably never would have come to this,” he told Ripple in Stillwater. “I pulled floats for him in parades for years. I have a John Deere tractor. My daughter has a goat, and we’d put a sandwich board on the goat with Emmer signs. And now all I got was kicked in the head. I thought he was my friend.”

Above: Apparent failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, accused of malpractice.


  1. Do you know anywhere the pleadings and motion papers might be posted, online?

    It would be interesting to see how the arguments were phrased in detail, cases cited, etc., and presuming it was a summary judgment motion, what triable issues of fact were presented by affidavit and evidence from Hackbarth.

    If it was a motion for judgment on the pleadings, how Emmer's and Hackbarth's lawyers argued and counterargued would be interesting to read.

    Has any MSM outlet picked up the story and obtained court papers and posted them?

  2. Jeff from St. Paul:
    My God, the man lent him his goat and look at the treatment he got!!

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